Dear all

I wanted to alert you to a training / careers development session that I contributed to as part of the Underwire Film Festival in November 2012. Underwire is a London-based shorts film festival founded in 2010 by Gemma Mitchell and Gabriella Apicella as a platform to promote, inspire and support women working in the film industry. Alongside the film screenings are debates, discussions plus training and networking opportunities. They are supported by a whole host of industry partners and hold touring and training events across the UK so they are well worth checking out!

The training session I took part in was co-produced with Olivia Bellas, a Cultural Consultant and Director of Creative Consultancy Company The Original Ranch. Olivia and I both share a passion for working in the creative industries and the various opportunities that this sector can provide however a similar frustration with the bureaucratic minefield and working conditions that face many struggling to manage and build a successful career. We wanted to produce a session that would be both informative – providing practical realities of how to manage and keep afloat in this industry, thinking about developing cross-sector skills, managing contacts, building an online presence that represents your experience, dealing with finances, benefits and rights etc etc – all that nitty gritty stuff AND empowering – encouraging particularly women to continue to build, manage and succeed in the creative sector. My personal motivation was to talk about some of the challenges that particularly face women working in the creative sector – issues around pay & promotion, managing a freelance career and the impact of motherhood on the work/life balance – and encourage women to make the working conditions of the industry work for them, ensuring that they can remain and continue to contribute to the sector…..

The full training session was divided into 3 parts. You can find the original programme by clicking this link to the Underwire festival webpage. Alongside the presentations the session included a Q&A with Theatre Director and Founder of the Wapping Project, Jules Wright plus a panel discussion on mentoring for women with members of the Women in Film and Television mentoring scheme and Fatima Najm a Journalist, filmmaker who has founded Creatives against Poverty which provides mentoring support for young girls.

I’m pleased to say that on the day the whole session was packed out. Attendees were women who ranged in age from early 20s to the late 40s. We had students, women at the midpoint of their careers plus those who had taken a break to have children all in the audience and they provided a wealth of feedback and discussion. We wanted to produce something that would be relevant to all and also provide a platform where women could network with each other and start to build on relationships and work contacts that could boost their careers.

All the sessions were recorded and you can listen to them on the Original Ranch website by clicking on this link. I thoroughly recommend you take the time to listen to all of the presentations. They’ve been split up so you can listen to one at a time and they provide a whole host of practical and inspirational material. We’ve also put up the original power point presentation, which includes the points discussed in the sessions plus a list of links to useful support organisations and networks.

I would encourage anyone at any stage of their career to take a look at this and get in touch if they feel they have anything to add. This session was aimed to be the start of something and it is the intention of all those involved in producing this event that it should grow into a larger online platform where women can share experiences, stories and support. In my presentation I made the point that the most important thing women can do is stay in the industry. As long as you remain, in whatever capacity your personal life allows you, you have power and you have a voice. If you leave, you give up that power and the opportunity to make changes that work for you, however it is not easy to do these things alone. The more women that remain and build careers in the creative industries, the more voices there are that can join together and the more power we have!